The goal for you is to get the right training in the quickest amount of time so you can start your career as a dental assistant. In Texas you really will only need a certificate level program to get an entry level job as a dental assistant.
With that said you will face a lot of competition from others who stayed in school and earned their Associate’s degree or higher. It is recommended that if you are serious about your career and this is something that you see yourself doing for a longtime then you should earn your degree. During your training you’ll take courses and subjects in:
- Tool Sanitation
- Patient Examination
- Teeth Restorations
- Lab Procedures
- Intro to Orthodontics
- Chairside Assistant
- Front Office Procedures
- Educating the Patient (proper dental care)
- Dental Emergencies
- Pre-Patient Preparation
- Dental Terminology
In Texas you’ll work approximately 200 hours in a real dental setting under the supervision of other assistants and dentists. It is important that the school you attend has plenty of externship locations to choose from. Make sure to talk to the school so they are aware of where you live so that the daily commute isn’t that far. In your externship it is treated like a real job so you can’t be late and you need to work extra hard as you might get hired after you graduate. Also when selecting a school make sure the dental equipment is start-of-the-art. You want to be trained by a school that uses good equipment so you are prepared to use it upon graduation. Your externship gives you a chance to not only work in a real office with clinical duties but to increase or gain self-confidence in your trade. We have also heard that the externship will help you build your professional network and get connections that you’ll end up using when you start looking for a job. Be sure to take the externship seriously as it is a great way to not only learn new techniques but improve your communication skills.
In Texas there is 23,720 jobs in the dental assisting field. Most jobs are centered in the major cities which also have the highest salaries. The state has a median hourly salary of $16.44 ($30,450-$38,575 per year). Below are some of the main cities in Texas and the average salary for DA’s.
Dallas, TX - $34,557
Amarillo, TX - $29,330
Irving, TX - $34,775
Houston, TX - $34,480
If you do x-trays then you’ll need to be a Registered Dental Assistant (RDA) and register with the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners. Texas has 12 RDA course providing schools. You’ll need to pass a TSBDE approved RDA courses. You’ll then apply for your RDA certificate. Once you pay you fees you’ll be mailed your RAD certificate. Check with the state before enrolling in any program to verify it is approved.
Want to make sure you are a successful dental assistant? Some traits you might be born with where others can be learned during your school or on the job. Below are some of the top traits that you’ll need to be successful as a dental assistant.
People Skills – Are you easy to talk to? Do people like your personality? As a dental assistant you’ll need to have people skills so your patients will feel comfortable with you. Your personality will show and your clients want to see you are excited and knowledgeable to help them.
Attention to Detail – Safety is the #1 role of the dental assistant. You need to be attentive to details including HIPPA rules and regulation regarding patient privacy. The dentist will need all of their tools and instruments clean and ready for the patient.
Communications – You’ll need good chairside manner and the ability to communicate clearly with both the dentist and the patient.
Humor – Nobody likes the dentist so humor is often used to help lighten the situation.
Always Learning – As a dental assistant you’ll want to always be learning new techniques and ways to improve your skillset. Dentists and other dental assistants will always be willing to help if you show interest. The only way to get ahead and to even become a team leader at your dental office is to show initiative.